How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 298

How do high definition televisions differ from traditional ones?
High definition televisions have more individual spots of color and brightness than the traditional sets. They may also have a somewhat different aspect ratio (horizontal width vs. vertical height). Creating high definition picture tubes is not particularly difficult since they are now rather common on computers. However, transmitting the increased information needed to paint the picture on a high definition television is a serious problem. One approach is data compression, in which redundant information is eliminated from the signal so that only new information is sent to the television. To avoid making all of the present televisions obsolete, the new high definition television standards are supposed to be downward compatible with those televisions. Unfortunately, trying to serve both types of televisions with the same transmitted signal is going to be a difficult task.

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